Bishop Basil Takach

Basil Takach was born in the small village of Vučkovoje in Maramoroš County (present-day Hungary) on October 27, 1879. Following the example of his father and his uncle, young Basil entered the Seminary in Užhorod and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Julius Firczak on December 12, 1902. After nine years of service as a parish priest, he was appointed Controller of the Eparchial Bank and executive officer of its printing society by the bishop.  In addition to these responsibilities, he also was named superior of the “Alumneum,” the Eparchy’s boarding school. His honesty, dedication and kindness made him one of the most loved and respected priests in the Mukačevo Eparchy.

After World War I, he assumed even more prominent positions in the Eparchy: spiritual director of the seminary, professor of religion at the eparchial teacher’s college, member of the matrimonial tribunal and diocesan consultor. It was while performing these important duties that Father Takach received the surprising news of his selection as the first bishop for the newly established Greek Catholic Exarchate in the United States (on March 8, 1924, the Holy See unexpectedly announced the establishment of two exarchates for Greek Catholics in the United States). Father Basil Takach was appointed to be the bishop of all American immigrants of Carpatho-Rusyn, Hungarian, Slovak and Croatian descent, while Father Constantine Bohachevsky was named Bishop for those of Ukrainian descent.  They were ordained bishops together at St. Athanasius Church in Rome on Pentecost Sunday, June 15, 1924.

The word of his appointment was received with resounding joy and approval by the faithful in America. On August 13, 1924, a huge and enthusiastic throng crowded onto the pier of New York Harbor to welcome Bishop Basil as he stepped ashore from the ocean liner Mauretania. After leading a service of thanksgiving at St. Mary Greek Catholic Church in New York City, a banquet followed at the Pennsylvania Hotel.

Bishop Basil served as the pioneer bishop of the Exarchate for twenty-four years with dedication, patience and zeal.  He built its foundations and structures, established its offices and administration, survived hectic and tumultuous times, and became the beloved shepherd of his flock.  It is told that during the last days of his illness with cancer, he wanted to once more visit the Sisters at Mount St. Macrina in Uniontown, Pa., which was very close to his heart.  While there, he said to his good friend Reverend Mother Macrina, “Our Church is stable and growing, and we have more than one hundred Sisters. So therefore Mother, it is time for us, you and I, to go.”     

His loving service ended on May 13, 1948 when, at the age of 69, he fell asleep in the Lord. His funeral liturgy at St. John Cathedral in Munhall was attended by seven bishops, three abbots, more than 180 priests and numerous civic, fraternal and cultural leaders.  His body reposes Mount St. Macrina Cemetery, where his people contributed for the marble statues of the Crucifixion enclosed by a balustrade – a memorial setting which has since become the bishops’ section of the cemetery.